Kolkata Knight Riders stole the show during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 auction on Thursday in Kolkata. The mini-auction saw Kolkata Knight Riders fill in holes in their squad with some big signings. The two-time IPL winners made the headline buy with Pat Cummins for a staggering Rs 15.50 crore. Also, the addition of Eoin Morgan added more finesse in the ranks.
KKR released some big players ahead of the IPL Auction 2020 and the onus was on the eastern giants making things count. They got things right in terms of getting more experience.
The purchase of England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, who played a huge role in the success of the Three Lions’ limited-overs side, was something that set the tone. The icing on the cake was that of Cummins, who had seen a bidding war only for Kolkata Knight Riders to come and steal him. The star Aussie pacer is in the form of his life and became the most expensive overseas player in the history of the IPL. He surpassed Ben Stokes’ sum of Rs 14.5 crore.
As the auction progressed, Kolkata Knight Riders went in and got some valuable depth. The most convincing of them was in the form of Tom Banton, who has hit the right chords in his career. The England opener is currently playing in the Big Bash League for Brisbane Heat. Rahul Tripathi, Pravin Tambe, and Varun Chakravarthy bring in some character as well.
Players bought by KKR in the IPL Auction 2020 – Pat Cummins (Rs 15.50 crore), Eoin Morgan (Rs 5.25 crore), Tom Banton (Rs 1 crore), Chris Green (Rs 20 lakh), Varun Chakravarthy (Rs 4 crore), Pravin Tambe (Rs 20 lakh), Rahul Tripathi (Rs 60 lakh), M Siddarth (Rs 20 lakh), Nikhil Naik (Rs 20 lakh).
A look at the full squad of KKR for IPL 2020 – Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (captain), Harry Gurney, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Siddhesh Lad, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, Varun Chakravarthy, Tom Banton, Rahul Tripathi, Chris Green, M Siddharth, Praveen Tambe, Nikhil Naik.
The batting looks strong for Knight Riders
KKR went on to release the likes of Robin Uthappa and Chris Lynn. This will now see promising youngster Shubman Gill as the frontline opener of the side. He had been playing in numerous positions over the last two seasons. In IPL 2019, when asked to bat at the top, he scored an impressive fifty against Punjab.
He will now need to play the role associated with Lynn. The young batsman can be the anchorman and play as per the situation. This will allow someone like a Sunil Narine to play with more freedom as usual and go after the opposition side in the first six overs. KKR’s four foreign options are set in the form of Narine, Andre Russell, Cummins, and Morgan. Therefore, the former is the likely candidate to bat atop.
In Banton, KKR has another aggressive opener in line. The England international can come in when required and add that flair. Banton had scored 56 in one of the T20Is against New Zealand. He has been strong in domestic cricket. Rahul Tripathi can be another option in the top order.
Going by the look of things, Nitish Rana is an ideal bet. He has the potential to keep the score moving and has impressed in the last three seasons. Dinesh Karthik, Morgan and Russell are the next big names in the line-up. All these three can rotate well and be the finishers too. One can witness them as the floaters of the side.
The likes of Rinku Singh, Siddesh Lad, and Nikhil Naik make it to the bench strength.
Can the bowling Unit deliver this time for Kolkata Knight Riders?
Cummins brings in that motivation and guidance in the bowling set-up. He will be required to lead the attack and fire from the first game. His addition lifts this side and KKR have a match-winner in Cummins. Harry Gurney and Lockie Ferguson didn’t quite deliver last time in the IPL. Ferguson, in particular, was expensive. However, this is a new season and the two players have a role to play when they get chances.
Gurney’s slower deliveries and Ferguson’s pace could work well. In the Indian bowling section, Sandeep Warrier looks like a real deal. He did well in the limited opportunities bagged last season. The Kerala pacer will be supported by Prasidh Krishna, who is growing in stature with time.
In Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti, KKR has two youngsters with a raw pace. They need proper guidance and that’s where Cummins will be of huge help. KKR is well stocked in the spin department.
Kuldeep Yadav and Narine are the main options. Kuldeep let the team down last season, however, he will be determined to put his woes behind him and be the utility man. Narine will need to step up and get wickets. His performances have waned of late. Australian Chris Green can bowl in the powerplays as well and he is an option that can come in handy. The all-rounder could get chances if the injury-prone Russell is out.
48-year-old Pravin Tambe was bought in the auction and he adds depth alongside mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy.
What are the weaknesses?
Kolkata Knight Riders do not have an ideal all-rounder that can match Russell’s caliber. So a lot depends on the West Indian. He needs to remain fit for the entire tourney. Last season, Russell was gold for KKR and lit up the show in an otherwise dismal campaign. Green is inexperienced and is the only all-rounder that can come in place of Russell. He needs to be ready in Indian conditions.
Also, apart from Cummins, the worry is who will pick regular wickets. Therefore, the likes of Warrier, Krishna, and Mavi need to step up as the Indian contingent.
KKR can do well in IPL 2020: Our verdict
KKR’s main strength is their batting. It needs to work well with plenty of firepowers in that middle order. Skipper Karthik has to get his selections to spot on and the side needs to be injury-free. DK disappointed last season in terms of captaincy. However, the presence of Morgan is huge. He can make the difference for the side.
KKR has the big hitters and players that can make things count. Things look balanced on paper. Russell will be the main man.
The fast bowling will majorly depend on how Cummins performs. If he stays injury-free and bowls as he has in 2019, then that will lift up the bowling unit. In Cummins, KKR has shown trust and the experience he brings is huge. The side has certain concerns in terms of the other personnel in the ranks. However, if they stick it out then KKR will be a top-four contender and qualify for the play-offs.